LAHORE: Punjab government’s project under which digital and smart libraries were to be established in all state-run colleges of the province lies in a limbo owing to the lack of interest and negligence on part of the authorities concerned.
Sources in the Punjab Higher Education Department said that the seriousness of higher authorities could be gauged from the fact that they had failed to fill 355 posts of chief librarians, deputy chief librarians and assistant librarians in government colleges.
Moreover, there are no librarians in 67 new commerce colleges and 39 news colleges established for boys and girls in various parts of Punjab, sources added. “The Higher Education Department has not been able to get an approval of 415 posts of assistant librarians from the finance department either after the seat of assistant librarian was upgraded from BS-16 to BS-17 in 2013.”
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Punjab Higher Education Secretary Nabeel Awan admitted that posts of librarians in 118 commerce colleges and newly-established colleges were vacant. However, he said, a summary to fill these posts had been sent to the Finance Department for approval, after which the posts of chief librarians, deputy chief librarian and assistant librarians would be filled through the Punjab Public Service Commission.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism Departments, in a bid to promote reading and learning among the masses, established e-libraries in 20 districts of Punjab but not in colleges.
A central digital library has been established at the PITB data centre to provide online access to full-text eBooks, e-journals, e-theses, online reference collections, Nobel laureate collections, simulated videos and other local and international resources. A union catalog of libraries in Punjab has also been developed to facilitate sharing of resources across the province.
The libraries have been focused to promote e-reading and e-learning culture, and to provide the avenues to the general public for networking, exchange of views, open access to free online resources and limited access to members for subscribed resources, engage the youth and players in healthy activities.
Sources said that Punjab Higher Education Department had to replicate this model all across the province in state-run colleges but it had failed to do so till now.
The Punjab government established 151 digital libraries across the province at an estimated cost of Rs940 million in 2017. The project was included in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of financial year 2016-17 but has not been included in that of 2017-2018.
The project was initially started for three years and at that time included a centralised digital library of e-books, e-journals, databases, documentaries, digital press clippings, online Pakistan Periodical Index, video-lectures relevant to text, reference and general subjects in the form of PDF documents, interactive e-resources and DVDs. Initially 150,000 e-books and other digital content would be available in the digital library.